Suicide: Time to talk
Everyone in the community has a role to play in preventing suicide, the South Canterbury District Health Board says.
"South Canterbury agencies are working together to build the resilience of the community, but it's also up to all of us to reach out and support each other," the South Canterbury Suicide Prevention Reference Group says in a suicide prevention fact sheet.
The fact sheet provides phone numbers for people to use in both urgent and non-urgent situations, as well as a list of critical and other signs which are common warning signs of suicide.
Where can I get help?
For urgent help:
South Canterbury DHB has a 24-hour/7-day service so people who are at risk of suicide can receive immediate help. This is the first point of contact if you have serious concerns about yourself or someone in the community. The 24/7 phone number is 0800 277 997.
For non-urgent help:
If you or someone you know is not coping, seek help early from a GP or practice nurse. General practitioners can refer you to a confidential early intervention service to help you get depression under control before it becomes a serious problem. There are also many community agencies in South Canterbury offering counselling and support. See page 4 of the Timaru/Oamaru phone book.
What are the four most important things to know about suicide?
1. Suicidal feelings are temporary (but can reoccur).
2. Treatment can help people feel better.
3. It's a sign of strength to ask for help.
4. Help is available and easy to access.
What are common warning signs of suicide?
- Direct threats of suicide
- Indirectly threatening to suicide (verbal statements like, "I can't stand to be alive anymore.")
- Accessing items for use for suicide
- Obsessions with writing, drawing, talking or listening to music about death, dying and suicide
Other signs to watch for:
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, shame or rage
- Isolating oneself from others
- Unexpected and sudden changes, e.g. in behaviour, personality, eating habits, sleeping patterns
- Making preparations for death
- Excess intake of drugs and alcohol
- Expressed thoughts of suicide
- Expressed thoughts of self-harm
- Previous suicide attempts
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Detachment from support agencies
- Stopping eating
- Paying off bills and outstanding debts
- Making a will
- Giving valuable or previous gifts away to particular people
- Deliberate self-harm
- Death or terminal illness of a relative or friend
- Gut instinct telling you something is wrong
What can lessen the risk of suicide?
The following can act as buffers against suicide and self-harm, and build personal resilience to low mood:
- Positive self-esteem
- Coping and problem solving skills
- Active social connection with family and community
- Use of health care services such as GP or pharmacist
- Known support systems
- Clear cultural or gender identity
- Maintaining employment or employment patterns
Should we be talking about suicide?
Yes. But research shows there are safe ways and unsafe ways to talk about suicide. The idea that people or the media are not allowed to talk about suicide is a myth.
Safe ways to talk about suicide:
- Do speak out about mental health resilience.
- Do speak out about depression or low mood.
- Do encourage people to seek help at difficult times.
- Do speak out about how to access support and services in the community.
- Do promote online information and websites.
- Do speak out about risk factors for suicide, e.g. drugs and alcohol and how they alter the chemical balance in the brain and lower mood.
- Do tell people personal stories of hope and healing.
Talking to a depressed person about seeking help does not encourage them to kill themselves.
Unsafe ways to talk about suicide:
- Don't promote suicide methods.
- Don't promote suicide locations.
- Don't simplify the cause of suicide to a single factor, as it is usually very complex.
- Don't glorify, trivialise or romanticise a person who has died by suicide.
- Don't promote memorial websites that glorify a person who has died by suicide.
- The Timaru Herald